Orlick as the Dark Side of Pip in Dickens' Great Expectations

Powerful Essays
Orlick as the Dark Side of Pip in Dickens' Great Expectations

Charles Dickens’ aptly titled novel Great Expectations focuses on the journey of the stories chief protagonist, Pip, to fulfill the expectations of his life that have been set for him by external forces. The fusing of the seemingly unattainable aspects of high society and upper class, coupled with Pip’s insatiable desire to reach such status, drives him to realize these expectations that have been prescribed for him. The encompassing desire that he feels stems from his experiences with Mrs. Havisham and the unbridled passion that he feels for Estella. Pip realizes that due to the society-imposed caste system that he is trapped in, he will never be able to acquire Estella’s love working as a lowly blacksmith at the forge. The gloomy realizations that Pip is undergoing cause him to categorically despise everything about himself, feeling ashamed for the life he is living when illuminated by the throngs of the upper class.

These feelings are summed up in Pip’s utter disgust and hatred for the character of Orlick. To Pip, Orlick represents everything that he abhors about himself. When Pip sees Orlick he envisions what awaits him in the future; being ensnared in a life that he couldn’t bear. Orlick, in actualization, is Pip without his high expectations. But there is a much deeper and ominous aspect of the relationship between Pip and Orlick. Dickens uses the character of Orlick to symbolize the darkside of Pip. Pip’s innermost primal feelings and desires are represented through Orlick’s actions, which Pip is ultimately responsible for. These actions ultimately lead to the downfall of both men.

In the first scene where we see Pip and Orlick together, there is ...

... middle of paper ...

...eration. It’s ironic that if only Pip had followed through with the original expectations that he had set for himself instead of the supposed greater expectations that he hoped for, he would have been better off.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bell, Vereen. "Understanding the Characters of Great Expectations." Victorian Newsletter 27 (1965): 21-24.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Ed. Janice Carlisle. Boston: Bedford, St. Martin's, 1996.

Rawlins, Jack P. "Great Expectations: Dickens and the Betrayal." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. 23 (1983): 667-683.

Millhauser, Milton. "Great Expectations: The Downfall." Dickens Studies Annual 2 (1972): 267-276.

Rosenberg, Edgar. "Last Words on Great Expectations." Dickens Studies Annual 9 (1981): 87- 107.

Sucksmith, Harvey Peter. The Narrative Art of Charles Dickens. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1970.
Get Access